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The Case for Extending Implementation of the Minimum Wage Increase

From the Chambers of Commerce – Belleville, Prince Edward County & Quinte West

Locally, the Chambers of Commerce have been engaging their membership to share how they expect the Fair Workplaces Act will affect them as small business owners.  And as outlined in the provincial reports, their stories are reflected across the province. The impact is expected to have multiple unintended consequences.  The deadline for amendments was in August, but the “The Flip Side of Fair” report features testimonials of the impact this will have on the human side of business case.  Link to the report

There are many compelling stories, but local entrepreneur, Guenther Huettlin, is quoted in the provincial release as follows:

“This Bill is forcing businesses to automate where possible, reduce labour/staffing, absorb part of the costs, and pass along a price increase to the customers (consumers) where possible. …The very people that you are purporting to help are the ones who are going to be hurt the most. This will be the inexperienced and/or unskilled in Ontario. As these jobs disappear, they will be pushed onto social assistance… and will remain in poverty.”

  • Guenther Huettlin, President and Owner at GH Manufacturing, Belleville, Ontario

“Small business is being pressured from all sides right now, from Bill 148 to proposed corporate tax changes; who in their right mind would want to be a business owner in this climate? says Emily Cowan, Executive Director of the Prince Edward County Chamber of Commerce. “Small businesses make up 98 percent of total businesses and two-thirds of private sector employment in Ontario – what happens when they can’t afford to run their businesses anymore?”

“These reports are issued as the Bill enters into debate with the hope that our representatives at Queen’s Park will understand concerns for the increase and changes are not based on an interest in maintaining profits but rather, sustaining jobs and morale internally and the ability to continue to provide products and services at affordable prices.  Businesses are prepared to plan for an increase to $15/hour but not in 15 months.” summarized Jill Raycroft, CEO for the Belleville Chamber of Commerce.

“What is going to happen to productivity when the raise in minimum wage ensures that more workers than ever in Ontario will be working minimum wage jobs?” said Suzanne Andrews, Manager at the Quinte West Chamber of Commerce.  “Currently only seven per cent of Ontario’s workers, about 520,000 people are earning minimum wage, this number will reach 1.6 million by 2019 according to the report from Ontario’s independent Financial Accountability Office.”  Link to the report

“Today’s final report by CANCEA is clear, while the Government is correct to say that there will be a stimulus from Bill 148, it does not cover the $23 billion cost challenge for business in the first two years – a substantial amount that poses great risk to our economy and cannot be resolved through offsets alone,” said Karl Baldauf, Vice President of Policy and Government Relations at the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “More must be done. The Ontario Government must resolve the economic challenges presented in Bill 148 through a combination of slowing down the implementation period, amending the legislation, and offsets. Business and Government must work together to avoid unintended consequences and protect our most vulnerable.”